What I’m Reading, September 2015

Let’s be honest, I forgot to write reviews for the last couple of August books, not to mention all the BSC books I’ve been reading lately. But here goes the last full month of regular reading before NaNo season madness kicks in.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull: I listened to this book. While there was a good bit of stuff about encouraging creativity in the corporate world, a lot of this book was a Pixar memoir, which was mildly interesting at best. (3/5)

Rumpled by Lacey Louwagie: Someone on Twitter recommended this book. As you might guess from the title, this book is a retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale with a twist. I like this telling better, as it gets more into the characters and gives them room to grow. (4/5)

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: This book was… okay. It was pretty much your typical YA romance except there are teen pop stars. It had its touching moments, but nothing about this book stood out to me. (3/5)

So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures by Maureen Corrigan: I listened to this book, narrated by the author. I was one of those teens who read The Great Gatsby in high school and didn’t really GET it. Corrigan does a great job of weaving F. Scott Fitzgerald’s personal story with that of his novel and its long road to success. She also made me want to reread Gatsby, a rare feat indeed. (4/5)

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig: I met Chuck at Decatur Book Festival this year and got my copy of the book signed. He also retweeted our selfie. Oh right, on to the review. This book is pretty good. It’s slow to start, but once the book picks up pace, it goes by really quickly. I particularly loved how the characters weren’t just all straight white dudes, but no one makes a big deal about the book being ~diverse~. (4/5)

Assaulted Pretzel by Laura Bradford: Won’t lie, I picked this one up just for the title. It turned out to be an Amish mystery with the title as the best part. I know there are some people who are into the cozy mystery subgenre, but I’m not that person. There was a lot of telling instead of showing what was happening, and a lot of the characters just talked and talked without indicating who was doing the talking. And it didn’t help that a lot of the characters sounded the same. (2/5)

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman: So much of this book made me cringe or laugh, but that was the point–to show off truly bad examples of writing. This book deals with bad examples of plot, character, setting, and style. I know I’m guilty of some of these points in my first draft, but this book showed me what to look for when editing. If you’re not sure what truly bad writing looks like, or you’re convinced your novel is the best thing since sliced bread, read this book. (4/5)

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow: I listened to about half of this audiobook about six months ago, then ditched the book because I had no idea what was going on. Mostly I just finished this book out of curiosity, but truth be told, I couldn’t get into it. The characters were shallow and dull, and while the premise grabbed me, the story itself was very disjointed and affected my enjoyment. The jumps in plot meant I lost track of what happened. This isn’t a slight on Doctorow’s work as a whole–I’ve read and enjoyed several of his other works and this book was his first–but I was not a fan of this one. (2/5)

Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson: I listened to this book. It probably would have been more interesting if I knew more about Queen Victoria and her life because there were entire chapters devoted to seemingly small incidents in Victoria’s life. It also would have been easier for me to follow if the characters were better developed. That said, I would have been fine with reading this book, but following a biography on audio presents many of the same challenges as following fiction does, and my brain doesn’t work well following long fiction–or biographies, apparently. (3/5)

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume: I love Judy Blume’s books for kids, so this book for adults landed on the Must Read list. This book wasn’t underwhelming (so was it just whelming?). However, it was very confusing to follow at first, with around twenty points of view. Once I got used to one character’s voice, another one would take over, and these twenty or so voices weren’t all distinct. There were also so many passages with just dialogue and no dialogue tags, so I lost track of who was talking pretty regularly. That said, I did enjoy Miri, the main narrator, and was invested in finding out what happened to her. The others, eh. (3/5)

The Unbound by Victoria Schwab: Sequels are hard. This one, however, is outstanding. Even though it had been awhile since reading The Archived, this book makes catching up on the main events easy while setting up for a possible third book and having a storyline of its own. Every scene is important, which is something I’ve grown to love about these books. And while many YA books suffer from absent parent syndrome, it’s a relief to have Mackenzie’s parents present and concerned about her well-being, even if she can’t tell them the truth. (5/5)

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: I listened to this book. While a lot of the advice in this book is common sense (“People like talking about themselves”–well, duh), the examples and the straightforward advice made this book worth reading. This would be a good book for anyone in management to read. (4/5)

500 Ways to Write Harder by Chuck Wendig: This book is more like a collection of bite-sized pieces to help you write harder. The topics range from genre to getting unstuck to taking care of yourself, and the bits of advice are just that–bits. Wendig’s humor and penchant for profanity make this book worth reading. (4/5)

2 thoughts on “What I’m Reading, September 2015

  1. So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures sounds very interesting to me. I just finished The Great Gatsby and I have the feeling I didn’t read all the layers of the book. I think with some background I might understand it better and find it an even more interesting book.

    Anna ( http://www.nightowlanna.blogspot.com )

    • It was really interesting, and I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school. Gatsby is definitely a book to read multiple times for all those layers of meaning, and So We Read On does a good job at examining all those layers. Let me know what you think if you read it!

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